An Ethnography of Fragrance

The Perfumery Arts of ‘Adan/Laḥj


The perfumery arts in Asia have traditionally been presented as exotic or, in recent decades, mainly ignored. The ethnographic report in hand recalibrates the character and meaning of perfumery in the Islamic world illustrated by the local example of ‘Adan/Laḥj. By retelling the stories which have become associated with specific fragrances there, the author simultaneously introduces the reader to the history and culture of Islam and the southern edge of Yemen. The cultural exchange along the Indian Ocean Rim and within the colonial empires supported the spread and refinement of aromatics. The result is a new and fascinating portrayal and explanation of perfumery in general as well as of its tradition and special features in West Asia up to recent times.


EUR €128.00USD $155.00

Biographical Note

Dinah Jung (Cultural Anthropology, University of Basel) is postdoc at the Institute of East Asian Art History at the University of Heidelberg. She has specialized in perfumery studies, conducting research in Europe, West Asia, and recently in Southeast Asia.

Review Quote

"The book by Dinah Jung will indoubtedly be in great demand among many specialists in various fields and living in many countries." A. Kudriavtceva in Manuscripta Orientalia 17.2 (2011), pp. 62-65. “ An Ethnography of Fragrance ist ein Meilenstein der wissenschaftlichen Erforschung der ParfumKultur in Jemen und zudem ein höchst lesenswerter und anschaulicher Einblick in das gesellschaftliche Leben von ʿAdan und Laḥj.“ Dr. Marieke Brandt in Jemen-Report 43.1-2 (2012), pp. 108-109. "This is a superb piece of solid academic research, well written and meticulously scientific." Efraim Lev in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, series 3, 22.2 (2012), pp. 465-466. "This interesting and theoretically engaged ethnography is valuable and relevant in several respects." Susan Rasmussen in Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 46.1 (2015), pp. 134-136. doi:10.1017/S0022463414000654


All those interested in the history of the Islamic culture and the Indian Ocean, Inner Asian exchange, globalization, arts and aesthetics, perfumery studies, as well as anthropology and ethnographic writing.